The Surreal Within the Everyday: Jim Woodring’s ‘Frank’

Set in a world called “the Unifactor,” Jim Woodring’s wordless Frank recounts the adventures of the title character—a gormless-looking, anthropomorphic, rabbit-like creature with a nature by turns passive and perverse—and his interactions with the Unifactor’s other inhabitants and the world’s beautiful and frightening flora and fauna, given to unpredictable reactions and behaviors…

“21st Century Global Guardians”: Corgi’s X-Ploratrons, 1979

Billed as “global guardians,” the X-Ploratrons were four toy vehicles, each equipped with its own novelty tool—mirror, magnifying glass, compass, and magnet—and charged with protecting humanity in the “fictitious disaster-wrecked world of the 21st century,” where “the elements rebel against man!” They were long-established die-cast toy brand Corgi’s attempt to adapt to the wave of SF-driven commerce that followed the unprecedented success of Star Wars

‘Science Fiction Monthly’ Cover Gallery, 1974 – 1976

From a merger of its 1961 acquisitions—British publishers Ace Books Ltd. and Four Square Books Ltd—the American Times Mirror Company created the New English Library (NEL) as a sister company to the New American Library. While the latter retained some of the cultural prestige of its original owner, Penguin Books, the NEL was under no such constraints of perceived quality: the publisher was therefore free to specialize in paperback genre fiction…

Portraits of the Mushroom Cloud, 1946 – 1990

From the moment atomic weapons were first inflicted on the planet in 1945, the mushroom cloud became one of the defining motifs of the second half of the 20th century, assuming an almost supernatural significance that would only increase over time. It might seem paradoxical to speak about serendipity in the case of something that has been the cause of so much misery, but it’s hard to imagine nuclear weapons occupying quite the same space in the human race’s imagination had their effects not taken such a recognizable shape…

Between Authority and Resistance: The Terminator’s New Clothes

By Richard McKenna

Although apparently naked upon its arrival in the gloomy labyrinth of 1984, the Terminator is, of course, already wearing a costume: the layer of flesh and hair covering the titanium bones of its endoskeleton, which allows it to pass for human. Over the course of the film, though, the titular cybernetic assassin procures for itself two further and distinct outfits—-suits of fashionable armor associated with a wounded and dangerous type of modern masculinity…

Cover Your Eyes: Lynne Littman’s ‘Testament’, 1983

1983 was a pretty fertile year for fictional nuclear apocalypses in Western popular culture. 2019: After the Fall of New York, Endgame, Exterminators of the Year 3000, Stryker, and Le Dernier Combat were released in cinemas, while ABC’s The Day After and Britain’s BBC2 adaptation of 1961 dystopian novel The Old Men at the Zoo, updated to feature a nuclear attack on London, appeared on television…

Spoiled Scions of the Middle Class: ‘Paninaro’ Magazine, 1986 – 1989

The Italy of the early 1980s was a country in a state of transformation. The post-war economic boom which had been particularly strong in the industrialized North of the country was peaking, and a generation of young people were rejecting the factional politics that, through the unresolved legacies of Fascism and Communism, continued to inform, and to some extent dictate, life in the country…